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Mystery TV - Hart To Hart

Buy Hart To Hart
The Complete First Season
1979 1980
Actors: Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander, Richard B. Shull
Directors: Karen Arthur, Ray Austin
Number of discs: 6
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 25, 2005
Run Time: 1139 minutes

The chemistry between stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers is what made Hart to Hart a very successful mystery television show. It ran for about five years before becoming the occasional movie of the week. It is, unfortunately, kind of hard to find on syndicated television so it is a joy to be able to get your hands on the six DVD first season box set. The Complete First Season of Hart To Hart includes the somewhat banal pilot and 22 other episodes plus a featurette on the first season.

A lot of very talented people were behind the first season about this comedic mystery solving rich couple that is basically the modernized television version of The Thin Man series (without the verbal agility). You will find names like Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg as producers, series creator Sidney Sheldon as one of the writers, directors like Tom Mankiewicz (he wrote a few of the James Bond screenplays), and actors like Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues), Rene Auberjonois (MASH the movie and Star Trek Deep Space Nine), and Eve Arden. However, it was not the guest stars or the names behind the scenes that made and still makes Hart To Hart a very enjoyable series. The writing was usually top notch, the relationship between Jennifer and Jonathan Hart had a comic slant that did not hide the fact they very much cared for and respected each other, and both Harts were kind, generous people who did not let their fortune get to their head. They were also mischievous, could defend themselves without a gun, and had many hidden (and probably illegal) talents. If the business world was run by the likes of Jonathan Hart we would not have scandals such as Enron.

Perhaps not enough has been said about the contribution the late Lionel Stander made to the show. As Max the butler and go to guy, he was able to throw in his own brand of comedy while helping the sleuths do their work. He also was an agile second story man, safecracker, cook, driver, and so on.

The two-hour pilot episode of Hart To Hart is not much plot wise as it is the very old hypnotize the client at the resort, blackmail him, and then get him to drive off the road. This is the trouble the Harts get into when one of their friends supposedly commits suicide. However, it does serve to establish the characters in the series and their traits as well as provide footage for the series opener for the next few years. The 22 other shows of season one are much more interesting, perhaps because the plotlines are not as worn as that of the pilot or because the show is tighter in the hour format.

Hart To Hart never was a whodunit kind of show more than it was a good guys (Jonathan and Jennifer Hart) versus bad guys kind of mild thriller.The plot usually involved one of the Harts righting a wrong and then having the crook or crooks come after them for revenge or the Harts investigating some kind of situation involving someone they knew.

A willing suspension of disbelief is also central to this series –as it is for many other television mystery shows—as a lot of stuff is set up in a way our heroes can solve the case in a television hour. You are supposed to buy the idea of a hetman who decides not to do the hit because the target is too nice a person as much as the idea that the Van Gogh in the Hart’s den is the actual thing. However, the series is a fun watch and it is easy to go along with it.

Hart To Hart The Complete First Season also includes a 30-minute featurette with stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as well as Sidney Sheldon and Tom Mankiewicz. You get the story behind the creation of the series, the casting, a few funny outtakes, and a lot of the usual “we all loved each other on the set” stuff –though I tend to believe it this time. This segment also shows how important quick thinking is to getting a series on the air: the story goes when the studio suits asked how the Harts would find a case each week, Mankiewicz answered, “The dog brings them the paper each morning and they find it there.”

This is a fun show to watch again.

Episode List:

DVD 1

Hart To Hart Pilot

Hit Jennifer Hart

Passport To Murder

DVD 2

Jonathan Hart Jr.

Death In The Slow Lane

You Made Me Kill You

Murder Between Friends

DVD 3

Cop Out

Max In Love

A New Kind Of High

With This Gun, I Thee Wed

DVD 4

The Man With The Jade Eyes

Color Jennifer Dead

A Question Of Innocence

Night Horrors

DVD 5

Which Way, Freeway?

Downhill To Death (a fan favorite)

Raid

Sixth Sense

DVD 6

Does She Or Doesn’t She?

Cruise At Your Own Risk

Too Many Cooks Are Murder

Death Set

Featurette: The Hart of Season One

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